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Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic

Last evening we trundled out to Tarragon Theatre to see Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic, which finishes its run tonight. This is a performance based on legends of the Inuit hero Kiviuq, as remembered and shared by Inuit elders.

This play is performed entirely in Inuktitut on a sparse stage, which make use of movable screens and video projections to bring to life the landscape and to show elders recounting the stories. It was fascinating watching a play performed in a language we don’t understand. We were emailed the program notes in advance so we had a chance to read up on the material presented in advance. This helped some, and although it was difficult to remember all the notes, the acting also helped clue us on on what the stories were about. There were some moments in which I found myself confused along the way, but on the whole I thought performing the play in Inuktitut made perfect sense.

From the director, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory: “Inuktitut is the language of Kiviuq Returns. Let it wash over you. Look for the intent, listen for the emotion, hear the cracks of smiles, the lines of sorrow.

The play entertaining and moving, and the throat singing was fantastic. The play tells us Inuit stories on their terms, some of which were apparently banned in the past by missionaries and the Canadian government. It generously shares with us a glimpse of Inuit culture, and we appreciated the opportunity to be there to take it all in.

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